I am often faced with the challenge of capturing what JCCWRP does in a few words. Usually this is part of a conversation about how I feel about being retired.
The easy answer is that I love retirement. The tougher one is to concisely convey what we do at JCCWRP and why do we do it.
Is our neighborhood focus on improvement? Development? Advocacy? Community building? Community relations? In reality we engage in a little bit of each of those objectives.
What is the Jewish angle? Are we only concerned about West Rogers Park?
I have found that the best way to convey what we do is to talk about what we have accomplished. But that requires the time to share a narrative. In the absence of that time, the bottom line for me is that we seek to address the needs of the community that individual residents can’t do anything about on their own. Public spaces that have been neglected. Facilities that are inadequate.
Working through broad coalitions we achieve two objectives. We are able to make the case for enhancement that otherwise would be impossible to articulate. A collective voice that gives our elected officials the backing that they need to make change.
And we build bridges across ethnic, religious and municipal divides in ways that will benefit all of us, Jews and non-Jews alike, who have a major investment in the places we live, whether in West Rogers Park, Peterson Park, Lincolnwood or beyond.
In an increasingly fraught world, it is good to make our communities a little better than they would otherwise be if we didn’t exist. In its own way, that is a sacred mission for all of us, one that Shalom Klein and I are privileged to help lead.